Eat My Heart Out by Zoe Pilger
15th Jan 2014
Published at the end of the month by Serpents Tail, Eat My Heart Out tells the story of Ann-Marie, a confused and conflicted twenty-something fuck-up, living in London and looking for love in all the wrong places.
Heartbroken, alienated and angry after a mental breakdown that wrecks her chances at graduating and her relationship with first love Sebastian, Ann-Marie is surviving – just – by working the door at a Soho restaurant and sublimating her grief and fury into a series of ridiculously epic and extreme misadventures.
In the course of terrorising everyone she comes into contact with, Ann-Marie’s confessional and apologetic first-person account showcases and satirises her paranoia, obsessiveness and extreme narcissism – as well as a desperate but endearing conviction that love will lead to redemption.
But Ann-Marie’s stream of consciousness isn’t always comfortable, or even coherent. As our (anti-)heroine unravels, so too does the narrative of Eat My Heart Out, as Ann-Marie hurtles from ironic warehouse parties to naked cleaning jobs via a forced appearance on Woman’s Hour, an audition for a neo-burlesque pop-up strip club, hotel dalliances with an older gentleman and much more besides.
Ann-Marie's confessional and apologetic first-person account showcases and satirises her paranoia, obsessiveness and extreme narcissism - as well as a desperate but endearing conviction that love will lead to redemption.And although feminist icon Stephanie Haight initially seems like an unlikely mentor who might be able to rescue Ann-Marie from self-destruction (thereby symbolically saving her entire generation), we soon discover Stephanie has just as many demons, misguided beliefs and insecurities of her own.
Realising her role model’s fallibility is a bitter pill for Ann-Marie, but she’s had plenty of practice with the recreational class A’s, and continues on her previous path, complete with an eclectic array of sharply-observed characters and situations, rendered in biting, blistering language and lurid technicolour.
A post-feminist, female equivalent of Bret Easton Ellis, Zoe Pilger is definitely one to watch; her writing is fast-paced, audacious, disjointed and dizzying, perfectly capturing the volatility, frustration, fear and arrogance of being young.
While you won’t always empathise with or even understand Ann-Marie’s actions in Eat My Heart Out, there’s no denying that her journey is a rollercoaster ride; although its ups and downs might make you queasy, it’s sure to take your breath away.